Popular Business for Expat´s in Colombia in 2021

12 Most Popular Businesses for Expats in Colombia in 2021
B&B / Boutique Hotel in Colombia

A bread & breakfast or a boutique hotel is probably the easiest business to setup in Colombia as an expat. The barrier to entry in this type of business is quite.

Bed & Breakfast or renting rooms is very easy but expanding into a full commercial operation will require commercial zoning, and tourism certificate for hotels. This may take 3-6 months.

You may rent rooms as an apartment building for 30 days or more until you get your hotel permission. If you have a restaurant in your hotel then you may serve liquor to your guests by filing papers at the local police station.


Airbnb in Colombia

Besides B & B or boutique hotel, Airbnb is probably the easiest business to setup in Colombia. You can buy a property and rent it out on Airbnb or another similar website. Alternatively, rent out a room in your apartment or house to cover costs. You can also advertise rooms or apartment for rent on OLX, Locanto, Fincaraiz, and other websites.

You can also hire a local real estate agent to help you find tenants for your property. If you are renting rooms in an apartment building on Airbnb, then you will have to check with the building administration before leasing any apartments or rooms to tourists.

Check with the building administration before leasing space for commercial purposes. Finally, you must know how to draft a rental agreement if you are renting room or apartment for an extended period of time off Airbnb.


Restaurant Business in Colombia

You must not assume that your taste in food or gourmet cuisine will be something Colombians desire. With that being said, exotic foods are something that usually go over well in high income area such as Poblado area in Medellin. 

From fast food to gourmet exotic foods are very popular. Just as in any other country restaurants can be challenging to run and have many costs associated with them. Stick with Colombian foods in low to middle income areas or you are taking a big risk. Many single mothers work selling empanadas and arepas on the sides of the street.  With that being said it doesnt take much to setup a fast food joint in a garage, but if you want to make money you will need a larger operation, obviously.

Many food delivery companies such as Domicilios, Rappi, and iFood operate in Colombia allowing you to bring food to the doorstep of your customers.


Telecommute from home country

In the days of COVID-19 pandemic, pretty much any office job can be done from your home. Internet connection is quite good and reliable in and around major cities in Colombia.

If you are buying internet service, then you have can choose between several providers such as Tigo, Claro, or Movistar. Be sure to buy business package so that you can get fast and reliable internet service.

With COVID-19 companies are more flexible than ever. You can live in Colombia by using several visa options but there is not specific visa for telecommuting persons. You will have speak with a visa professional to find a solution that works for you.

If you have a job or an online business that you can carry out from anywhere in the world, then Colombia is one of the best options for you.


Administration of Rentals

A lot of tourist come to Colombia year round from all over the world and need apartments, rooms, or houses for their stay. You can administer rentals for a real estate agency or for individual landlords.

You can work with landlords who do not speak English and want to rent out their property to foreigners. You can find these landlords on Airbnb and other apartment rental sites.

Administrating apartments generally require solving issues a tenant may have such as finding an apartment, leasing an apartment, getting utility and internet connections, resolving disputes with landlord, and abiding by laws of the building administration.


Coffee Farming

Colombia is quite famous for its well-known coffee and coffee beans. Mostly popular for the Juan Valdez coffee brand which is widely available throughout the country.

The country also provides Starbucks with much of its coffee. The Colombian mountains are perfect for growing rich, flavorful, and delicious coffee.

Coffee changes flavor depending on the altitude it grows at as well as the type of coffee. Arabica beans are the mostly commonly grown coffee beans in Colombia which are lighter and sweeter.

Be sure to check out coffee farms in the rural parts of Colombia and the most famous coffee producing region in Colombia which is known as Coffee Axis or Eje Cafetero.


Outsourcing IT professionales

If you are used to hiring programmers or IT professionals from US, then you know that it is costly having developers from United States. Hiring programmers from USA can cost you 5 to 10 times the money you would pay for a programmer in Colombia.

Also popular alternative to India and European countries because of the similar time zones in Colombia. Average pay is around $1,500 to $2,000 a month for a very good Spanish and English speaking programmer or a mobile app developer. You can also hire graphic designers and social media


Real Estate Broker

Being a real estate broker is one of the top three business that expats get into when landing in a Colombia. You do not need a realtor’s license in Colombia but you should get chamber of commerce business certificate as a sole proprietor starting off, or a SAS corporation if you will have a partner.

Additionally you will need a tax ID. Real estate brokers traditionally make 3% on sales in major cities, but in some cases clients pay more. Commission on furnished properties will usually make up to 20%, and for administering unfurnished properties will earn 8-10% normally.

If you have well-heeled clients from other countries who are looking for luxurious retirement homes, then fincas in Colombia are probably the best place for them.

The fincas in are known to be holiday homes for the wealthy. They are typically situated in the countryside and offer a perfect escape from city life. In Colombia there is a huge abundance of fincas that dot the farmlands surrounding many of the country’s cities and towns.


Live off Rental Income in another country

This one is a no-brainer. You can live of rent from a property in the United States, Colombia, or elsewhere and use the Rentista visa option to get a migrant visa.

All you have to do is show consistent rental income to immigration authorities when applying for this type of visa. The rental income can be derived either from a residential or a commercial property. A number of expats live in Colombia off rental income. Please be aware that you have to pay taxes to DIAN on your rental income.


Outsourcing Call Center

Call centers are essential parts of a business. Almost any business irrespective of its size requires a certain number of sales representatives or customer service agents. This can get to be a large part of overhead. Huge savings are available to your business if you setup your call center in Colombia.

Customer service and sales reps from Medellin and Bogota speak English well and have very clear accents. Please be certain of labor laws before hiring customer service reps for your business. They must be paid basic salary plus bonuses or commissions.


Avocado Farming

Colombia has only had an agreement with the United States for 3 years for exporting Colombian Hass Avocado. There is a huge demand for guacamole, frozen avocado, health and beauty products or the entire avocado fruit.

A kilo of Hass avocados gets about 5,700 pesos at a packing plant, which about 4-5 avocados for $1.60. In the USA, you are going to usually pay at least 1 dollar per avocado. So the profit margin is there. Exporting yourself you can get 5 dollars a kilo easily. If you have other products such as guacamole and oils you are able to earn even more on the side. Usually a hectare of Hass Avocados will produce 20 tons per year, but if the crop is well maintaned it will produce more.

Avocado trees take 4-5 years to produce fruit, however investments in avocado farms is a very lucrative business. Avocado trees grow very fast, and if you do it right you can find some land with some trees that are already producing, that will cover expenses on the farm while you plant and grow more trees


Organic Farming

A new sector gaining in popularity. Small health food markets & restaurants are gaining in popularity as Colombians become more health conscious.

Growing vegetables in a small farm outside a major city can be a way to have fun and earn some extra income.

Additionally there are other crops that can grow in the same climate and produce profits throughout the year, such as galupa, tree tomatoes, or potatoes.

These other crops grow very fast and can bring in profits while you wait for the avocado trees to bloom. The galupa is recommended as a profitable crop.

Financial Scams in Colombia in 2021

Financial Scams in Colombia in 2021

A lot of foreigners travel to Colombia to enjoy their vacation, meeting and be with their significant other, purchasing property, retiring in some quaint town, or starting a local business. While Colombia is a largely safe place to live, invest, and retire, you still have to be cautious of the locals when it comes to making legal and financial transactions with them.

Financial scams and abuse of confidence or trust by spouses or girlfriends are common in Colombia just like the rest of the world. Several foreigners have become victims of financial scams during their stay in Colombia.

These scams can include real estate scams, credit card or wire fraud, business or corporate fraud, fake local currency, and fraudulent bank accounts. In this article, we will discuss the five most commons financial scams in Colombia and how you can avoid being a victim of fraudulent practice.


2. Financial Scam by a Colombian Spouse

The most common financial scam in Colombia is being defrauded by your loving Colombian spouse or  girlfriend or boyfriend. Often, your spouse or significant other will carry out a financial scam while colluding with his or her family members.

Your Colombian spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend can take advantage of you knowing that you are not well versed in local laws while your grasp of the Spanish language is elementary at best.

It is quite common for foreigners to give money to their Colombian girlfriends to help him or her or their family members with medical expenses, rent, or tuition. But unfortunately, that money gets spent on other activities such as paying for plastic surgery, debts owed to friends or family members, or even spent on a vacation that he or she took without informing you.

Often family members of your Colombian spouse will approach you with a business idea and will ask you to invest in their business venture. You may be taking a big risk, not in terms of investing money in a business but thinking that it is an investment. Often it is not an investment but rather a donation. You should not expect to get your money back even if the business shows any sign of success.

Furthermore, some foreigners are too quick to hand over their credit cards to their Colombian boyfriends or girlfriends just to find out that the card has been maxed out while the money was sent by their Colombian girlfriend to her ex-husband or boyfriend or a family member.

Some foreigners make the mistake of giving keys to their apartments or homes to their girlfriends in Colombia later to find out that all the furniture and the appliances have been removed from their homes in their absence.

To avoid these scams, you must first trust your instincts and be careful of claims and complaints made by your Colombian spouse. If you sense that something is not right or something is off, then avoid that financial transaction with your Colombian spouse altogether.


2. Abuse of Power of Attorney for Home Purchase

When the power of attorneys is very general and not specific, this gives the power to the opportunistic person to sign a property over to other persons, change prices, or even reroute payments to themselves or unknown third parties.

One example of out of many, a woman with a power of attorney for someone she was romantically involved with purchased a home and put the home in her name, which was not the agreement. Luckily, the person who sent the money had many conversations which established how the purchase was supposed to be conducted. A judge later forced the liquidation of the home and the US citizen was rewarded money from the sale a few years later.

Another example all too common is a girlfriend or wife asking for money to make property payments for a future or current home. Foreigners often trust their Colombian lover to faithfully make investments with the pretense of buildings a future together.

The reality is that many times the money is not being invested, and is being used to pay for a lavish lifestyle in Colombia, or money is being invested in one person’s name and once the couple ends the relationship the foreigner is left with nothing.

Unfortunately, open-hearted or overly nice persons are always get preyed upon by unscrupulous people in Colombia.


3. Credit Card and Wire Fraud:

Credit, debit card scam and wire fraud is all too common in Colombia and happens quite a lot in big cities. Card numbers and pins are stolen during swipe at local stores, gas stations, and thrift shops. Later these are duplicated as cards and are used in brick and mortar stores or on online retail channels.

It is quite common to get your credit card stolen electronically in Colombia while making a transaction. Some foreigners have reported that their credit card was stolen after they make travel-related purchases while using a travel agency.

Besides credit card fraud, wire fraud is common in Colombia. In one case, an employee at a legal firm tried to get the client to wire money to his account for business services rendered by his employer.


4. Corporate Fraud

This type of fraud or scam often involves legal representatives of companies such as a president, vice president, or manager.

Putting someone on corporate paperwork as a legal representative, i.e., president, vice president, or administrator can often be too much for someone to resist in Colombia. Even though you promise profit sharing, great salary, and benefits, many people think about what they can get short-term, unfortunately.

In certain sectors of the economy, you are going to run into more types of persons who will scam you, such as casinos, gold exporting or mining, agricultural, webcams, night clubs, thrift shops, and restaurants.

Hence, it is common to mislead foreigners who do not know about the country. Be suspicious when friends are not wanting to use an attorney. Keep proof of conversations by email, text, and even voice calls.


5. Fake Currency Bills:

A lot of fake currency bills are in circulation in Colombia. You are most likely going to find fake currency bills while dealing with street vendors and taxi cab drivers.

During the exchange with a taxi driver or a street vendor, pay attention to the currency bills that a driver or vendor hands to you.  The currency bills can be fake and are quite hard to recognize especially if you are taking a cab at night.

Be especially careful when handling a large bill such as a COP 50,000 note to a cab driver and he returns the note saying, that he does not have any change. Upon your insistence, he magically finds change and hands it to you with the COP 50,000 bill. The next day you try to pay with that same COP 50,000 currency note that the cab driver or a street vendor gave back to you, and you’re told it is fake.

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How To Adopt A Child From Colombia in 2020

How to adopt a child from Colombia in 2020

In Colombia, there are mainly two types of adoption, a child of a single parent or an orphan. Before adopting a child in Colombia, the adopting parents must qualify based on the criteria below.

What is the Criteria of Adopting Parents in Colombia?

Age of Parents: Parents must be at least 25 years old. Additionally, the oldest parent must be between 15 and 45 years older than the youngest child being adopted. An age difference of 50 years between parent and child and parents older than 55 years old can be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Length of Marriage: Length of Marriage:  Parents must be married for at least 3 years. Cohabitation or civil union can also be considered on case by case basis.

Proof of Financial Resources: Parents are required to provide proof of sufficient resources to support another child.

Medical Restrictions: Parents must be in good physical and mental health before adopting a Colombian child. A psychological study of the adopting parents prepared by a psychologist or a psychiatrist must be submitted along with other required documents.

Single Parent Applicant: Single parent can adopt but it is difficult to do so. Single women are allowed to adopt boys and girls with any special needs, groups of siblings and other healthy children older than 10 years old. Single men are allowed to adopt boys 10 years of age or older.

Sexual Orientation: Colombia allows same-sex couples to adopt children in Colombia as of November 2015. The Colombian Constitutional Court instructed adoption agencies not to discriminate against same sex couples.

Family Colombia

What is the Criteria of Children Being Adopted in Colombia?

Age: Children between the ages 9 to 15 years, children with special needs of all ages, larger sibling groups of more than 3 children and older siblings groups with more than 2 children with 1 child older than 9 years old.

Race: Children of all races and ethnicities including Hispanic, Native/Indigenous, Afro Colombian, or mixed ethnicities

Gender: All boys and girls with the option of parents requesting a gender.

How Adopting Children from Colombia Works?

ICBFThe adopting parents schedule an initial consultation with one of the adoption agencies. Their criminal history, complete biography, employment records, proof of marriage, age, mental and physical health is reviewed. The required documents are organized and then presented to Colombia’s central authority, Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) to facilitate adoptions. Finally, the adopting parents wait for final decision by a judge.

How Adopting Children from Colombia Works?

The Colombian Central Authority, BIENESTAR FAMILIAR (ICBF) manages all the adoptions. Here are the steps that you have to follow.

1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
5. Adopt the Child in Colombia
6. Bring Your Child Home.

Does Child Adoption Make You Eligible for Colombian Citizenship?

The Colombian Child Citizenship Act allows adopting parents to apply for Colombian citizenship. For more information regarding Colombian citizenship, please check Colombian citizenship laws.

What Is the Best Adopting Agency in Colombia?

Christian Adoption Agency, All God’s Children International is one of the best and well known adoption agency in Colombia. Another good adoption agency is Holt International Adopting Agency.

These agencies work with Colombia’s central authority, Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) to facilitate adoptions. The ICBF is the entity that processes all international adoptions in Colombia and is located in the capital of Bogota.

Most children available for adoption are newborns and up to 15 years of age. Children with medical conditions and sibling groups are also eligible for adoption. There are currently 11,000 orphans waiting to be adopted in Colombia.

About 20% of families are united with their children within 6 months!
The timeframe for adoption is between 6 to 18 months. The timeframe starts from registered dossier to completion. Timeframes are highly dependent on family’s openness to medical conditions, gender, and age of child.

Why Use Our Agency For Adopting Children from Colombia? 

Since 2005, our legal firm Medellin Lawyer has helped clients to adopt children from Colombia. We are the oldest expat visa business in Colombia. We also have more attorneys in office than any other visa agency in Colombia. In addition to our visa services we offer a full range of legal and accounting services to our clients. By having a legal and accounting firm work on your application, we are able to handle any surprises or last minute requests by immigration officials or by a judge.

Our Story

James Lindzey the owner of Medellin Lawyer and Visas by James has worked as a private investigator and paralegal in the United States from the 90s until he moved to Colombia in 2005. James arrived in Colombia in 2005 and started doing visas for expats in 2007.

In addition to our visa services our agency offers a full range of legal and accounting services to our clients. We are able to assist better in document collection services in the United States because of James legal experience in the United States.

Our Services

Many visas require obtaining complicated documents in the United States or Canada. Just another reason why you should choose our firm.

  • We organize your immigration profile so that your Colombian visa application is successful.
  • We elaborate and structure all the necessary documents for your Colombian visa application.
  • Presentation of a Colombian visa before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any Colombian consulate
  • Registration and orientation when you are getting you Colombian ID (Cedula de extranjeria).
  • We monitor your immigration process.
  • Translation Legalization and apostille of the documents required for your visa application.
  • Chat Over WhatsApp – get your visa questions answered fast.
  • Online quotes – get immediate quotes for visa and other legal services
  • Courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
  • Office in El Poblado in Medellin services.

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Secrets For A Successul Foreign Investment In Colombian Real Estate

Secrets for a Successful foreign investment in colombia real estate

After years of experience running a real estate agency in Medellin Colombia, and owning the law firm Colombia Legal & Accounting, i have organized a list of very important items to watch out for in a Colomiban Real Estate deal. Keep in mind Colombia has many rules and laws in place to control money laundering and tax evasion due to the endemic money laundering and socio economic, and cultural problems the country has to deal with. Once you get past this Colombia is a very friendly country for foreign investors.

We have organized our tips for a successful foreign investment into 11 areas, which we will now explain to you in the video.

1  Verify Colombian Wire Transfers  Forms 

  • Incorrect wire transfer forms can result in fines up to 4 times the value of the wire in some cases.
  • Incorrect ID/passport number,  vales or concept code numbers can disqualify you for visas.

2 Verify Purchase Price on Title at Signing

Common practice in Colombia is to record a lower value on a title, However there is a very strict financial law which went into effect January 1st, 2019 which lets the government fine you up to 4 times the value of your property if you under declare the real sale value.

basic steps

3 No Cash Transactions:

  1. Colombia has a new Financial Law which  went into effect January 1st, 2019  to Control Sales of Property using cash transactions to Avoid Taxes.
  2. Cash Transactions are illegal under the new financial law.

4 Filed Bank Transfer Form

  1. Always ask your bank or financial institution  for copy of the 'FILED' (radicado) wire transfer form.
  2. Banks often make clerical errors that must be corrected.
  3. Bank wire transfer forms can be easily  corrected.

5 No Cash Transactions:

  1. This is negotiable, and normally it equals amount of penalty clause. Some foreigners offer a small initial deposit as payment to hold the property while the buyer organizes an internatinoal wire for full required payment.

8 Penalty Clause: Do not sign document without having a clause to protect you from a bank not opening or clearing your wire transfer Normal Penalty clause is for 10-20%.

NO LETTER OF INTENT - Letters of intent are not customarily used in Colombia as they are in the United States: The only binding document is a purchase or pre-purchase sales agreement .

10 Open a Bank or Investor Account in AdvanceOpen a Bank or Investor Account in Advance

- Do not wire directly to a seller without having a purchase agreement signed at notary (best to avoid this option).

- Wire directly to your own personal account in Colombia.

- Bank Account Wires Must be Planned in Advance or you May lose your deal or Violate yogur Purchase agreement.

11 If you’re a foreigner you probably want to buy in an estrato 4 or higher

Social economic income coding for neighborhoods  usually ranges from 1-6, the higher numbers represent higher class neighborhoods, and usually have higher security and sanitation attention, but are also more expensive when it comes to public utilities, and taxes. Outside of major cities this is not as much of an issue.

Ther professional services which we recommend before buying a property in Colombia include:

Obtaining a property survey from a civil engineer

Obtaining a property inspection performed by a civil engineer

Requesting an investigation of the property administration association.
Specifically reviewing proof of the administration’s:

Financial reports certified by independent auditor

Property bi-laws

Residential & commercial zoning laws

Insurance coverage

 Verification Property is not on Government Clinton List

 Commercial Escrows &  Construction Trusts

 Living Trusts to Protect your Property and Families Future (click Here)

More foreigners living in Colombia choose COLOMBIA LEGAL & ACCOUNTING S.A.S as their law firm to assist in purchasing a property in Colombia for personal and commercial reasons. Also, we are among the most experienced firms when it comes to negotiating property rental contracts, both commercial and residential.

We strongly suggest that you discuss all of the information you receive with your attorney BEFORE signing a contract to purchase real estate in Colombia. At COLOMBIA LEGAL & ACCOUNTING S.A.S we will complete the due diligence necessary to ensure that your real estate transaction goes smoothly, and all of your questions are answered. Finally, we will educate you on the entire process of  how to buy real estate in Colombia, with complete transparency at the highest level.

CLICK HERE to ask any questions or make an appointment to speak directly with one of our real estate professionals today.

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